We were lucky to get fraises readily, in season; we used to pick them up in Petaluma, where the remarkable Mary Isaak grew them for Chez Panisse in various rented vacant lots. And we had a few plants of our own, when we lived in Berkeley. But the season was short. Those grotesque commercial strawberries were available year round, I think; but they weren't worth eating.
Then we met Nancy Skall, the memorable late Nancy Skall, who grew amazingly fragrant and delicious strawberries at her Middleton Gardens. She would never tell us the name of the variety: perhaps she didn't know. They certainly weren't fraises; they were strawberries — but small, and deeply colored, and almost pungent.
Since those days, now getting on thirty years ago, of course others have begun growing decent strawberries. The Chandler variety is a good one, and the folks down in Swanton grow them well.
These days we buy them from Lou Preston, and old friend and a sort of neighbor; his farm and vineyard are perhaps twelve miles away, but worth driving to. Here you see the strawberries with sliced peaches from Dry Creek Peach, whose orchard is only a mile or two from Lou. The vanilla ice cream's another matter — Straus, I think; I may be misremembering.
THAT WAS YESTERDAY. Today, a little off my feed, and it being far too hot, we had supper in mid-afternoon, so we could do a little more work outside in the cool of the evening.
We had penne in Cook's marvelous tomato sauce, with a grating of Parmesan on top, as you see, and never forget the grind of black pepper. Green salad afterward.